Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's orders granting the City of Whitehalls' motion to dismiss the Town of Lincoln's action challenging the City's annexation of a portion of the Town, holding that the court of appeals erred in limiting the grounds on which the Town may challenge the annexation. On appeal, the Town argued that the decision of the court of appeals was based on the erroneous classification of the petition as one for direct annexation by unanimous approval even though the annexation petition lacked the required signatures of all landowners. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the annexation petition was not a petition for direct annexation by unanimous approval; and (2) because the limitations on annexation challenges set forth in Wis. Stat. 66.0217(11)(c) pertain only to petitions for direct annexation by unanimous approval, those limitations did not apply in this case. View "Town of Lincoln v. City of Whitehall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court sustaining the the Board of Review for the Town of Delafield’s reclassification of two lots of land owned by Appellants from “agricultural land” to “residential”, holding that the two lots at issue were entitled to be classified as agricultural land as a matter of law. In reversing the circuit court, the court of appeals determined that a business purpose was not necessary for land to be classified as agricultural land for property tax purposes and that the assessor’s determination of the appropriate classification was driven by his erroneous understand of the law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a business purpose is not required for land to be classified as agricultural land for property tax purposes; and (2) the two lots at issue were entitled to be classified as agricultural land. View "Peter Ogden Family Trust of 2008 v. Board of Review for the Town of Delafield" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) did not have the authority to unilaterally amend the pier permit of Philip and Terrie Myers. After the Myers were granted a permit by the DNR and built a pier at their waterfront property. Later, the DNR issued a formal permit amendment requiring the Myers to significantly change their pier. The Myers declined to comply with the permit amendment and filed a petition for judicial review. The circuit court denied the petition, concluding that the DNR had the authority to amend the pier permit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the DNA lacked authority to amend the Myers’ permit. View "Myers v. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources" on Justia Law

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In this case arising out of the approval of a redevelopment project in the City of Eau Claire, which relied in part on funds derived from two tax incremental districts (TIDs), the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the court of appeals. Plaintiffs, Voters with Facts, et al., challenged the legality of the City’s actions with regard to the TIDs. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief on their claims and argued, in the alternative, that under certiorari review the City had acted outside the scope of its lawful authority. The circuit court dismissed the case, concluding that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint as to declaratory judgment, agreeing that Plaintiffs lacked standing. But the court reversed and remanded for certiorari review because the circuit court had not directly addressed that claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that certiorari review was appropriate because it is the proper mechanism for a court to test the validity of a legislative determination. Because the record was insufficient to enable this Court’s review, a remand to the circuit court for certiorari review of Plaintiffs’ first and second claims was required. View "Voters with Facts v. City of Eau Claire" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the Building Permit Rule (Rule) extended to land identified in a building permit application as part of a project upon which no actual construction was planned. Golden Sands Diary, LLC obtained a building permit for seven farm structures. Its building permit application identified the building site as 100 acres and its total acreage as 6,388 acres, on which it sought to operate a farm. After Golden Sands filed its building permit application, the Town of Saratoga enacted a zoning ordinance seeking to prohibit agricultural uses such as those proposed by Golden Sands. Golden Sands argued that the Rule extended to all the land identified in its building permit application, and therefore, it had a vested right to use all of the property for agricultural purposes. The circuit court concluded that the Rule extends to all land identified in a building permit application. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Rule applies only to building structures and not to use of land. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Rule extends to all land specifically identified in a building permit application; and (2) therefore, Golden Sands had a vested right to use all of the property for agricultural purposes. View "Golden Sands Dairy LLC v. Town of Saratoga" on Justia Law

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The thirty-day period under Wis. Stat. 68.13(1) during which certiorari review may be obtained for a town board’s highway order to lay out, alter, or discontinue a highway begins to run on the date that the highway order is recorded by the register of deeds. In this case, the circuit court granted the town boards’ motions to dismiss Appellant’s petitions for certiorari review of highway orders recorded in Rock and Walworth Counties. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for certiorari review in either Walworth County Circuit Court or Rock County Circuit Court because Appellant’s petitions were filed within thirty days of the dates on which the highway orders were recorded by the registers of deeds. View "Pulera v. Town of Richmond" on Justia Law

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The circuit court affirmed the Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee’s denial of a conditional use permit application for non-metallic mineral mining submitted by AllEnergy Corporation and allEnergy Silica, Arcadia, LLC (collectively, AllEnergy). The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Committee applied the factors and considerations set forth in the applicable ordinance and thus kept within its jurisdiction in denying AllEnergy’s application for a conditional use permit; (2) there is substantial evidence to support the Committee’s decision to deny AllEnergy a conditional use permit; and (3) this court does not adopt the new legal doctrine urged by AllEnergy that a conditional use permit applicant is entitled to the permit under certain conditions. View "AllEnergy Corp. v. Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee" on Justia Law

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McKee Family I, LLC (McKee) objected to the City of Fitchburg’s rezoning of two lots from a planned development district (PDD) zoning classification to a residential-medium (R-M) zoning classification. McKee sought declaratory judgment, damages, and injunctive relief on the grounds that the rezoning of the lots was unlawful. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City. Acknowledging that it did not submit an application for a building permit, McKee appealed, arguing that it had a vested right in developing land under the PDD zoning classification. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that McKee did not have a vested right in the PDD zoning classification when the City rezoned the lots. The court declined to address McKee’s constitutional taking argument, reasoning that it was an undeveloped argument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) McKee did not have a vested right in developing the property under the PDD zoning classification because it did not apply for a building permit and because a PDD zoning classification does not create contractual expectations upon which developers may rely; and (2) because McKee conditioned its takings claim on its claim for vested rights, the Court need not reach McKee’s constitutional takings claim. View "McKee Family I, LLC v. City of Fitchburg" on Justia Law

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Amjad Tufail leased property to Midwest Hospitality pursuant to a lease agreement. The City Board of Zoning Appeals ultimately approved Midwest's application for a special use permit to operate a Church's Chicken fast-food restaurant with a drive-through on the property but placed conditions on the permit. Midwest subsequently notified Tufail that it was no longer responsible for lease payments because Tufail made a false representation to Midwest regarding the terms of the lease. Specifically, Midwest contended that Tufail represented that Midwest may not be prevented from using the property for certain specified purposes. Tufail brought this breach of contract action against Midwest. Midwest counterclaimed for breach of contract, deceptive advertising, and unjust enrichment. The trial court ruled in favor of Tufail. The court of appeals reversed, determining that Midwest's early termination of the lease was justified by Tufail's misrepresentation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Tufail's representation was not false where (1) the representation did not include any use of the property as a Church's Chicken fast-food restaurant with a drive-through; and (2) the circuit court found Midwest was not prevented from using the property for the uses specified in the lease. Remanded. View "Tufail v. Midwest Hospitality, LLC" on Justia Law

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The circuit court dismissed the inverse condemnation claims of several landowners whose property was close or immediately adjacent to the regional airport. The landowners alleged that an extension of the airports runway by 1500 feet amounted to the compensable taking of an easement because the resulting overflights had adverse effects on their properties. The circuit court acknowledged that the subject properties had been adversely affected but concluded that for a taking to be compensable, the property owner must be deprived of practically all of the beneficial use of the property. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the standard for regulatory takings does not apply to physical occupation cases. At issue on appeal was what standard to apply in airplane overflight cases for determining a taking. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a taking occurs in airplane overflight cases when government action results in aircraft flying over a landowner's property low enough and with sufficient frequency to have a direct and immediate effect on the use and enjoyment of the property. View "Brenner v. City of New Richmond" on Justia Law